Big money offered for men's soccer

FOOTBALL: Far North Coast clubs have been dangled a $10,000 carrot to play in a predominantly mid-week senior men’s knockout competition next year.

But there will be no rewards for the teams taking up the option of paying a $250 nomination fee to contest the Northern NSW Football State Cup unless they reach its quarter-finals.

The new competition has been based on the English FA Cup format with no stipulation being placed on the division of soccer clubs allowed to compete.

In reality more than 150 teams could contest the inaugural title from the seven zones of northern NSW and its two Premier State League and First Division competitions.

The competition will be divided into two pools with the northern pool comprising clubs from Mid North Coast, North Coast, Northern Inlandand Far North Coast leagues.

The southern pool will include club teams from Newcastle, Macquarie, Hunter Valley and the northern NSW premier league sides.

Details of the new knockout series were announced yesterday, just days after invitations were sent out to the various zones for passing on to their clubs.

“It’s something clubs have been requesting for four, five and six years, but our administration resources have always been the thorn,” NNSWF operations manager Alan Nisbet said yesterday.

“We’ve waited a long time to make this announcement and it’s obviously still an unknown quantity.

“There has always been a big push from teams around the State to play teams they never meet.

“It is based a lit bit on the (English) FA Cup format when names could sort of go into a hat and be drawn to play any other team, no matter what end of the competition they come from.

“It’s a huge opportunity for lower division clubs to compete against and knock out teams from higher divisions, and we’re envisaging it will be seen as a chance not to be missed.

“Every team only gets one chance to win and move on.”

Clubs have until January 29 to nominate and pay their $250 fee.

Clubs in the Northern Zone will play their first round matches on Saturday, March 27, but all other round games will be played on a Wednesday night. That includes Southern Zone’s first round on March 31, followed by rounds two, three and four for all zones on April 28, May 26 and June 23.

The quarter- and semi-finals will be played in Coffs Harbour on July 10 and 11, with the Cup final on August 7 at a venue still to be decided.

“We don’t see the knockout as a burden on normal competition commitments,” Mr Nisbet said.

“Most train two and three nights a week, so the successful clubs will probably be only too happy to substitute one of those.”

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